Reviewing our Parliamentary boundaries
One September lunchtime I ventured to a room in Parliament to collect a hotly anticipated document. I got closer to the room and quickly realised that many of my colleagues had had similar ideas and so I snaked to the back of an extremely long queue filled with MPs and their staff. One thing could provoke such willingness to queue from MPs- Boundary Review.
The Boundary Review has been controversial for many reasons. It reduces the number of MPs from 650 to 600, including 11 of 40 Welsh seats with significant implications. More MPs in government, projections have shown that as many as 43% of Tory MPs could hold a position in Government, means less effective parliamentary scrutiny of Government. The role of the backbencher is a crucial tool of scrutiny to directly challenge government. Of course, boundary reviews are an essential part of democracy but there is always a conflict of equal representation of voters and representation of community. This review resizes constituencies so that all 600 seats have a population of 74,769 give or take 5%. Citizens of the UK do not live in neat communities of 74,769 and that is why things are complicated.
Parallel to this is the issue of voter registration, the current review process was based on an electoral register pre EU Referendum and research shows there are some 1.2 million missing voters who slipped off the register. Renters, minority ethnic groups and 18-25 year olds are the groups who have fallen foul of this meaning there is a huge disparity of representation on the register.
This is my final column before the holidays so I send my best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a less dramatic 2017.